Rev. Ali Wurm, an openly gay priest who served St. Bede’s in the city of Adelaide in southern Australia, recently gave up her post as Priest-In-Charge, acknowledging what seems to be a general failure of acceptance of her life – not just from some church members, but also among fellow clergy, if not within the fuller hierarchy of her diocese.
The Sunday Mail’s headline writer calls it “hierarchy persecution”:
Tensions within the Diocese of Adelaide about how to respond to a global moratorium imposed by the church on same-sex unions and the ordination of clergy in same-sex relationships – as well as the handling of the turmoil by Archbishop Jeffrey Driver – are believed to be factors in the women’s departures.
All Souls of St Peters’ Reverend Andy Wurm, Ms Wurm’s brother, confirmed pressure over many years about her former same-sex relationship was a key factor.
“A major reason for her resignation was the persecution she felt as a result of her living arrangements and sexual orientation,” Rev Wurm said.
It’s a compelling story with a lot of holes. Where the pressure to resign came from, or whether it was just a sort of wearing-down over time, is unclear. Perhaps it’s symptomatic of a larger issue. Certainly the timing raises eyebrows. The first female Anglican Dean of Adelaide, Rev. Sarah Macneil (a former diplomat), also resigned this month, less than two years after coming to St. Peter’s Cathedral.
Dr Macneil announced her resignation at a service at St Peter’s Cathedral on Sunday, telling parishioners she could “no longer work with integrity at diocesan level”.
The former diplomat declined to comment on the reasons for her resignation when contacted by The Advertiser yesterday, but several parishioners said she was “visibly distressed and in tears” as she made the announcement to the congregation.
“She basically cited that she thought it was important for the Dean of the Cathedral to be able to work with the diocese and the Archbishop and that she didn’t feel she could do that,” one parishioner said.